Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

Where I’m Hiding February 21, 2011

Filed under: assessment,background knowledge,blogs,books,kidlitosphere,professional development,reading — bestbookihavenotread @ 12:36 pm

Where Have I Been Hiding?

In plain sight, but off the blog-o-sphere.

Wishing to be blogging rather than yearning to blog.

I tell myself, it’s all worth it.

I’m hidden:

  • Under a pile of professional books both for grad classes and for
  • “catching up” (Building My background Knowledge) with the point of view our new superintendent brings with him to our district

Good thing I find his thinking right in line with my own, and also as a positive for our district ūüôā


Recently finished:

Leading Change in Your School: How to Conquer Myths, Build Commitment, and Get Results by Douglas Reeves

Inside the Black Box: Raising Standards Through Assessment by P. J. Black & Dylan William

My current professional reading list:

The Leadership Challenge by Kouzner & Posner

Guided Instruction: How to Develop Confident and Successful Learners by Douglas Fisher

Ahead of the Curve: The Power of Assessment to Transform Teaching and Learning by multiple authors (Reeves, DuFour, Marzano, Stiggins)


In progress:

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

The Things that Keep us Here by Carla Buckley

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex (audio in progress)


Wish List (What I wish I was reading!)
Every Last One by Ana Quindlin

Linchpin: Are you Indispensible by Seth Godin


Alas, I must stop procrastinating the revision of grad papers so I can get them crossed off my to-do list. It doesn’t seem like one type of writing should count as procrastinating for another type of writing, but it sure is for me.




Great Reading in July July 26, 2009

Filed under: authors,book reviews,book turned into movie,KidLit,kidlitosphere — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:31 pm
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I haven’t been blogging much lately between getting my daughter to camp and having my son think her being gone means he is now an only-child whose whims I have nothing better to do than fulfill! On the other hand, I have been getting some great reading done.

Recently read:

Mudshark by Gary Paulsen-short, quirky, not quite sure what I think of it. I wouldn’t rush out to buy it in hardback.¬†mudshark

Edward’s Eyes by Patricia MacLachlan-see 100 Scope Notes or A Year of Reading review. Wow! An amazing book.edwardseyes

The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan (See PBS Parents¬†Booklink’s article about the author Rick Riordan) Loved it! Surprised I hadn’t read it before. Even more surprised that my public library does not have ANY of the series. (I’ve been told they are there in the YA section-I will verify, but sure that I must be wrong) If I was an intermediate or middle school teacher, I would definitely want to read this aloud before the movie is released February 12, 2010.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart (see Jen Robinson or semicolon‘s review) or check out the series’ website, The Curiosity Chronicle. Hate to say that I really had to make myself finish this book, although the last fourth flew by.

Beautiful Stories of LifeThe Beautiful Stories of Life: Six Greek Myths, Retold by Cynthia Rylant (I had bought it because I love Cynthia Rylant and worry that kids don’t know some the “older” myths, fables, and fairy tales. Thought it would be good to read-aloud to my own children. It was a great coincidence that I started reading¬†The Lightning Thief- right after this book. I love that The Lightning Thief will get kids familiar with many of the Greek myths that otherwise might not be that interesting to some readers.)

Recently won from a Twitter contest: The new released Slugger series=4 books so far= (formerly known as Barnstormers) by Loren Long and Phil Biloner-I do love the new covers! Thanks Children’s Book Review!

Recently viewed: While at the movies with my son this weekend (G-Force in 3-D, what else?) previews for both book related movies¬†Where the Wild Things Are and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs were being featured. Obviously they are taking the picture book at a starting point for the movies, but hmmm….are movie writers out of original ideas? Is it cheaper for studios to option books and adaptations? I wonder… Also recently viewed on DVD, Coraline. Creepy, but not as scary as I bet it was on the big screen!

Currently Reading and upcoming reads:

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (recommended by Lucy Calkins)

A Quick Guide to Making Your Teaching Stick by Shanna Schwartz (re-reading in preparation for an upcoming workshop class I’m teaching)

Lily’s Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff (re-reading for Mother-Daughter Book Club)

20 Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler (had to stop reading it because it made me keep crying)

Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me by Nan Marino (How can you resist a title like that?)

The Fortunes of Indigo Skye by Deb Caletti (YA-picked up in NYC)

What I REALLY want though is a new BestBookIHaveNotRead to jump all those and take me to a new world. I’m on the look-out. It must be time for a trip to Cover to Cover!


Soupy Saturdays with the Pain and the Great One by Judy Blume June 30, 2009

Filed under: book reviews,kidlitosphere — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:54 pm
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Soupy Saturdays with the Pain and the Great One was a great audio-book that my children and I enjoyed recently. We listened to the other Pain and the Great Ones by Judy Blume in succession and loved them as well. We had enjoyed the Superfudge books read by Judy Blume herself, but also really enjoyed the voices used to portray sister (aka-The Great One) and brother (aka-The Pain). I’m not sure which of the three of us found the stories the most amusing (I”m guessing me, since my daughter and son don’t recognize that they do so many similar things to The Pain and The Great One!) but we were driving around laughing at many of their episodes.

This book began the series started by Judy Blume’s picture book. I missed the books with my daughter so I am VERY excited to know about them for my son.

soupy saturdays


Scat by Carl Hiassen April 14, 2009


I feel a little strange admitting this, but I have never read a Carl Hiaasen book before. Hoot did come out the year my son was born (the first of three years of getting up with him a minimum of three times a night), so that probably has something to do with it. It’s not that I didn’t think his books looked or sounded interesting, but there was always something else that kept coming up that would bump Hoot further down in the stack. That of course, was until Scat. ¬†

I commited to reading¬†Scat¬†when it was the title my daughter selected for the first meeting of The Mother-Daughter Book Club. ¬†This book has guaranteed I will read both of Hoot and Flush, and think I’ll try some of his adult fiction as well!

Scat is a book that pulled me on one level and then kept me thinking on different levels all the way through.  

The characters of Nick, Marta, Duane Jr. are well developed and feel like people you can relate to. Many of the other characters, are just as well-developed. Mrs. Starch, the mean, missing teacher; Mr. Wendall Waxmo the sub who wore tuxedos and always taught page 160 on Tuesday, no matter the day or subject; Twilly; the detective; Duane’s grandmother.

The environmental theme is woven throughout the story and arrives in surprising packages. Part mystery, part comedy, this book kept me thinking long after I closed the cover. The timely, yet¬†unfortunate,¬†issue of soldiers coming home wounded from Iraq is also handled in way that makes the issue very accessible to younger/middle aged readers. Nick’s determination to become a lefty like his dad really struck a nerve in my heart.¬†

Interestingly, when we went to get it from the library, it was in the YA section, which I found initially surprising. There are a couple “dumb ass” comments, and the danger/mystery might be too much for some intermediate readers. Nonetheless, it kept my daughter and her friends turning page after page through all 384 pages!

A must-read that would also make a terrific read-aloud. Maybe some science teachers might be brave enough to try it as a read-aloud in their content area!


What I’m Currently Reading April 7, 2009

Filed under: audiobook,books,KidLit,kidlitosphere — bestbookihavenotread @ 6:46 am
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Just finished Scat by Carl Hiaasen. It’s one of the best books I’ve read! Now I need to read Hoot and Flush!

Bedtime reading Greetings from Nowhere by Barbara O’Connor with my daughter.

Bedtime reading Roscoe Riley Rules #1 Never Glue Your Friends to Chairs by Katherine Applegate with my son.

Listening to The Calder Game¬†CDs by Blue Balliet in the car when I’m by myself.

Listening to Beyond Spiderwick #1 The Nixie’s Song by Holly Black and Tony diTerlizzi and Past Perfect, Present Tense: New and Collected Stories¬†by Richard Peck with my children in the car¬†

Currently and actively reading The Art of Teaching Reading by Lucy Calkins, Graceling by Kristin Cashore (recommended to me by one of my former students-he even brought it to me at school-I love that!)

Started but yet to finish: Leepike Ridge by N.D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire by N.D. Wilson (they are both good, I just got distracted)

need to start, but haven’t Room With a View by E.M. Forester, Drood by Dan Simmons


New Books April 6, 2009

Filed under: audiobook,book reviews,books,KidLit,kidlitosphere,picture books,read alouds — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:36 am
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The goals: spend less than $75 on new books Saturday, find new release books I hadn’t read yet, try to include one each for my son and daughter to get excited about. Here’s how it ended up

Word Builder by Ann Whitford Paul (beautiful new picture book with a construction crew taking letters and eventually turning them into a book) 

The Pet Sitter: Tiger Taming by Julie Sykes (a series from England starring a young pet-loving boy. Will be good for my son as he is not ready for Magic Tree House, but insists on chapter books that look “grown-up”)

Smoke by Mavis Jukes (I’m not sure what gravitated me towards this book. The cover has a cat in profile, the title is the same as one the characters in the book Scat I just finished, I need a new read aloud for my son and thought this would be a nice change from Wimpy Kid, thought he would love the cowboy connection. I’ll let you know.)

Recycle This Book: 100 Top Children’s Book Authors Tell You How to Go Green Edited by Dan Gutman (Good short stories are sometimes hard to come by and 100 by authors such as Ralph Fletcher and Gail Gibbons can’t be beat!)

Change Has Come with illustrations by Kadir Nelson (Kadir Nelson’s drawings, Barack Obama’s words-need I say more?)

The Beautiful Stories of Life: Six Greek Myths by Cynthia Rylant (Love Cynthia Rylant. Love that this myths are retold at a level that I can use to introduce them to my children and students)

Total Damage $71.96

I’m pretty excited about my haul!


Great YA book: Second book arriving in May March 5, 2009

Filed under: book reviews,books,KidLit,kidlitosphere,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 5:36 pm
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Boy it feels good to be at home. The weather channel says it is 60 right not in Ohio, which as my son likes to point out, is a sign spring is coming! 


I started reading Gone by Michael Grant this past weekend to the exclusion of almost everything else (the exception was the laundry). I just got the normal weekend to-dos caught up today but I could NOT stop reading this book! I didn’t know it, but I guess I am a sucker for dystopian fiction. First Hunger Games, and now Gone. ¬†¬†

I was a “Goner” with the first paragraph,

“One minute the teacher was talking about the Civil War. And the next minute he was gone.



In the blink of an eye, everyone fifteen and over disappear. Left behind (good thing he didn’t try to use that title) are the young: teens, preschoolers, and not a single adult. The reader is quickly pulled into the story as the hero Sam calms friends and strangers alike as the reality of the situation begins to sink in. Good¬†¬†versus Evil, autism, supernatural powers. Somehow the book has it all in an action-packed book. ¬†¬†

A little of the television show Heroes, a little Lost,  a 558 page read that was over way too fast!

If you go to Amazon, DON’T watch the horrible book trailer. Go to your nearest Indy book seller and buy it there!

The book is the first of a six book series. Hunger is due out in May and the third is titled Lies (unknown publication date).  The author, Michael Grant, is married to Katherine Applegate (who some feel lost out on Newbery with her 2007 book Home of the Brave) and together they were the co-creators of Animorphs.


This is Not a Press Release February 2, 2009

Filed under: KidLit,kidlitosphere — bestbookihavenotread @ 5:40 pm

Over at Mother Reader, you will see the “not a press release” that announces


The opening banner lets us know: 

¬†¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† “KidLitosphere Central¬†strives to provide a passage to the wonderful variety of resources available from the society of ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† bloggers in children’s and young adult literature”.

It’s true-they do have a great wealth of resources for KidLit bloggers. What you used to have to “google” or come across through a link on someone’s site, is now there for everyone to benefit from.¬†

It’s also true that¬†

¬†¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†“What started as individuals blogging independently about children‚Äôs and young adult books became a collective of like- ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† minded people. While maintaining our own sites and unique perspectives, shared activities made us a thriving ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† community.”

Years of reading other people’s reviews gave me the confidence to realize that I too can write my opinion about books-children’s, young adult, and professional resources. Before, my audience was people in my building who knew that I loved books, and tried hard to remain current with new releases. Now, I still write with that same audience of teachers and parents in mind, but my voice has more distance. ¬†I can comment, chat, and talk with those people whose reviews I have been reading to make my own book choices. We can share information as well as rejoice over a great new book we just found. ¬†

I look forward to reading the blogs by the Central Ohio KidLit Bloggers that I have been fortunate to meet. I look forward to finding some new blogs to add to my reader from KidLitosphere Central. Thanks to Mother Reader,¬†Elizabeth Burns,¬†Kelly Herold,¬†Jen Robinson, and¬†Anne Levy for being wise enough to put all the resources in one place! Here’s to great new reading!


The Girl Who Could Fly January 25, 2009

girl-could-flyThe Girl Who Could Fly by first-time author, Victoria Forester, is a great book! I really enjoyed the first fifty pages, but  LOVED the next 250ish pages.  

The book was completely different than I anticipated from when I started reading and I LOVE a book that can surprise me! The cover shows a girl in an old-fashioned nightgown and the names of the characters reinforce the idea that the book is set in an “old-fashioned” time or at the least a very rural area. ¬†I’m not implying that the cover or inside flap are misleading, but they don’t give away any of what had me reading compulsively. The school (its name!!), the headmistress, the classmates, the quote the book starts with, etc. make for compelling reading!

I’m torn between wanting to write about it and just telling you that you need to read this book!¬†

I really enjoyed the character Letitia Hellion who instantly brings to mind ¬†Mrs. Colter from The Golden Compass, (watch out Philip Pullman!). The beauty and smarts that cover up a deviousness you can’t even begin to imagine exists makes Dr. Hellion a character with depth and facets that you’ll just have to read to appreciate. ¬†

I was also reminded of the movie¬†War¬†Games(80s review here)¬†that I¬†¬†enjoyed when I was in high school. It starred a young Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy and just looking at the review on-line brought back all kinds of 80s nostalgia that I didn’t even know that ¬†I had. 16 Candles, Breakfast Club, dreamalittle421 Jump Street, oh my.¬†

Well, no matter what happy reading and viewing memories The Girl Who Could Fly brings back for me, you’ll need to read this and find your own. I’m very happy this will be a sixth grade read-aloud, but want to give to every intermediate teacher I know as well as wanting to recommend it to countless young readers. Must. Behave. And. Not. Ruin. A. Potential. Read-aloud.


Along Came Spider by James Preller & The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron January 22, 2009

Filed under: books,KidLit,kidlitosphere,read alouds — bestbookihavenotread @ 5:10 pm
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Along Came Spider¬†by James Preller (not to be confused with Along Came A Spider) and The Higher Power of Lucky¬†by Susan Patron are both great books for intermediate readers. I’m guessing this might be the first post that compares and sees similarities between the two titles, but it so happened that I was listening to Lucky and reading Spider¬†at the same time, so I couldn’t really overlook the similarities even if I wanted.¬†


Along Came Spider is the story of two fifth grade boys who have been both neighbors and friends for a long time. Now that it is fifth grade, Trey faces a great deal of peer pressure to ditch his friend Spider who the other students find “weird”. ¬†It never comes out and says that Spider has Aspberger’s or is on the autism spectrum, but from years of classroom experience working with students with both, it seemed to me that Spider would fall somewhere on that spectrum.

 I found the books to be a quick and pleasant read that would appeal to many different students. I think the fifth grade teachers are going to really enjoy sharing this boo. Having this book as a shared reading experience will open windows to conversations about peer pressure and differences.  I wish that the book had been around those first couple years I had a student similar to Spider, and struggled to find words to help nine year-olds accept/understand the differences in some of their classmates. Having a character in a book that can be discussed can really open conversation in an amazing way!

Even though the characters are fifth graders, I think the content and readability will appeal to a wide range of intermediate readers, both as a read-aloud and as an independent reading book. I’m adding Six Innings to my read list since I enjoyed this James Preller so much. ¬†

I also enjoyed The Higher Power of Lucky. Lucky who also struggles with acceptance is on a quest to find her own “higher power”. ¬†Too many overheard 12 step meetings have led her to the decision that she needs to find hers. ¬†Lucky has two “friends”. One who makes knots nonstop (a little overfocused like Spider, but maybe that implies OCD) and one who lives with his grandmother and is overfocused on the book Are You My Mother?

I find it interesting that three Newbery titles easily come to mind that deal with foster children. I wonder if there are others I don’t know about. I wonder how the percentage of Newbery/Newbery honor books about foster children compare to the percentage of books about foster children?¬†


The little section that mentions a dog’s scrotum is not really worth all the fuss it’s gotten. It’s¬†certainly not a good reason to ban a book-it is a real body part for goodness sakes. If I was reading it aloud, I would have probably just changed a few words if I was worried.¬†

This is a great book and I think Lucky is a character that many intermediate readers can relate to. ¬†Add these two to your library. ūüôā